Responding to growing customer demand in Europe for small cars with low running costs and low emissions, Kia is introducing a bi-fuel model to its Picanto small car range. Making its debut at the 65th Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) in Frankfurt, the new Picanto LPG promises even lower running costs than conventional gasoline-only Picanto models.
The new variant will record fuel economy in LPG mode of 5.8 l / 100 km and CO2 emissions of 100 g/km – with automatic stop-start (ISG) equipped models achieving 5.6 l / 100 km and 97 g/km.
The new Picanto model will be available with a choice of LX or EX equipment levels and five-door or three-door bodystyles – just like other models in the Picanto line-up.
“Kia is always looking for ways to fulfill every customer’s needs,” comments Benny Oeyen, Vice President Marketing and Product Planning, Kia Motors Europe. “The Picanto LPG is designed to satisfy a clear demand for such a bi-fuel engine, demonstrating Kia’s determination to offer consumers across Europe the widest choice of products.
“The Picanto is one of the most competitive vehicles in the ‘city car’ A-segment, delivering premium features at affordable prices and we anticipate that the new bi-fuel model will prove particularly popular in those European countries where LPG is readily available,” adds Oeyen.
Initially, the bi-fuel model will be available in Germany, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal and the Netherlands – where it expected to account for up to 7% of Picanto sales. When it goes on sale later this year, the left-hand drive Picanto LPG will be the first, and only, LPG-powered car in the marketplace with a 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty.
Switching fuels at the touch of a button
Picanto LPG is powered by a special version of Kia’s three-cylinder 1.0-litre Kappa engine which produces 49kW (67 ps) and 90 Nm of torque. To process LPG the engine is fitted with an additional fuel system featuring a solenoid valve, vaporiser (which turns the liquid LPG into a gas by reducing its pressure by 0.7 Bar), a gas filter and an injector module.
Made in Korea, the highly efficient Kappa family of engines share many common characteristics, including dual CVVT (continuously variable valve timing), a cast aluminium block, off-set crankshaft, maintenance-free long-life timing chain and low-friction ‘beehive’ valve springs.
The new Picanto LPG is fitted with two fuel tanks – the regular 35-litre gasoline tank in the regular position ahead of the rear axle and a 27-litre pressurised LPG tank located beneath the trunk floor in the space previously occupied by the spare wheel. Trunk capacity is 152 litres (with rear seats upright) and a tyre-mobility kit is provided in case of a puncture.
Drivers can switch from gasoline to LPG (and vice-versa) by simply pressing a button on the dashboard. Apart from the addition of the fuel selector button, the only other change inside the Picanto LPG is the fitting of a new instrument cluster with two fuel gauges (gasoline and LPG) and two ‘low-fuel’ warning lamps.
The LPG tank and the system’s equipment adds 51 kg to the Picanto’s weight, so in order to maintain brisk acceleration (0-100 kph in 14.5 seconds) the final drive ratio is lowered by 8.6% (from 4.235:1 to 4.600:1). The Picanto’s top speed – 150 kph – is unchanged from the standard 1.0-litre gasoline model.
Retaining all the key Picanto assets
While its powertrain has been modified, the new Picanto LPG retains all the key assets which have made the smallest Kia so popular throughout Europe, recording annual sales in excess of 50,000 units.
When the new Picanto was launched in April 2011, the character of the car was transformed from ‘cute and friendly’ into mature and handsome, with a design to turn heads, thanks to its dynamic design language – boasting a bold self confidence and maturity which remains unique in the A-segment.
While becoming more stylish, the 3.6-metre long Picanto remains an extremely practical car. On the outside, overall vehicle length increased by 60 mm, and the wheelbase grew by 15 mm. Although the latest Picanto is a larger car with more equipment, clever engineering and greater use of high-strength steel in the bodyshell resulted in it weighing up to 10 kg less than its predecessor – depending on model.
Attention to small details of the exterior design improved the new Picanto’s aerodynamics, reducing its drag figure to just Cd 0.31 – better than the majority of A-segment cars.
‘Big car’ comfort and convenience features
The Picanto’s new found maturity is also reflected in the interior design, which sets a new benchmark in its class for material quality and trim choices, while offering buyers numerous ‘big car’ comfort and convenience features – many of them fitted for the first time on a car in this segment.
Available features include: UV-reducing windscreen glass, automatically controlled air-conditioning, electric folding door mirrors, automatic light control with ‘escort’ and ‘welcome’ modes, passenger seat storage tray, under-floor storage box, retractable and illuminated cup holders, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and a ‘gear shift indicator’ to encourage an economical driving style.
Other features available include smart-key entry system with engine start/stop button, AUX, iPod and USB connections for the RDS radio CD player with MP3 compatibility, Bluetooth® hands-free with voice recognition, ‘active’ head restraints, driver’s knee airbag, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, reversing parking sensors and HAC (Hill start Assist Control).
Available safety equipment will include up to seven airbags (with a new driver’s knee airbag as an option on EX models), ESC electronic stability control, HAC hill-start assist control, and ‘active’ front seat head restraints to protect against whiplash injury in a rear impact. The Kia Picanto achieved a 4-Star safety rating in EuroNCAP crash tests.
For additional safety, an ESS (Emergency Stop Signal) system is standard in Europe. Sensors detect when the driver is braking suddenly and hard, and then flash the brake lights three times to alert following drivers that the car is slowing rapidly.